Switzerland has long been a nation that provides an excellent example of how to thrive in a world full of political conflicts and corrupt politicians. The nation is not a federation, like America or Canada, in which a central government has dominant power and the state or provincial governments are subordinate. Switzerland is, instead, a confederation. The cantons retain a high degree of constitutional autonomy — much more than any other affluent industrial democracy in the world.
After rattling markets last week with fears of a default, the Hungarian government announced a series of measures earlier this week including spending cuts, tax-policy changes, and a new tax on the financial sector aimed at satisfying international institutions and containing the nation’s public deficit.
In hindsight, the Steering Committee in charge of the annual gathering of elites known informally as the Bilderberg group could have chosen a better — or at least a safer — venue for this year’s gathering than Sitges, Spain. The stunning Mediterranean resort near Barcelona, known far and wide as Spain’s most decadent locale (think San Francisco’s Castro district, New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, and Palm Beach all rolled into one), just happens to be near one of several Ground Zeroes of the European economic meltdown — Madrid. (Another Ground Zero, of course, is Athens, near where the “Bilderbergers” convened last summer.)
It happens every year in June, somewhere on the face of the Earth where there’s enough security and affluence to accommodate a gathering of the world’s most exclusive club. This weekend it’s happening in the Spanish Mediterranean resort of Sitges, near Barcelona, where the ultra-elite Bilderberg group is meeting at the heavily guarded Dolce Hotel.
President Horst Kohler has abruptly resigned as head of state of Germany in response to criticism of his remarks a few days earlier in which Kohler said that Germany was on the right path of developing military power sufficient to protect its economic interests. Although he later clarified his remarks, stating that he meant enough military power to keep up international trade routes, the political damage was done.